Building a career in racing usually requires two things; talent, and luck. For Corona, California's Jason Patison, one of those things has eluded him in 2011. And it's not talent. The veteran of several NASCAR series decided to pursue a championship in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist Super Late Model division at his home track, Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, this season. His #17 Lucas Oil, Magnaflow, E3 Spark Plug, K&N Filters entry has been fast all season, but lady luck continues to escape Patison.
#17 Lucas Oil, Magnaflow, E3 Spark Plug, K&N Filters Super Late Model. Photo by: www.bcsportsimages.com.
Jason Patison's #17 Super Late Model. Photo by: www.bcsportsimages.com.
"The season is going really well, but it's still not as well as I was expecting," said Patison, who is currently third in points, just 14 back from leader Kevin Thompson. "We decided to run the entire year at Toyota Speedway so we could win races and a championship, but we've had mechanical issues twice, one of which allowed Jack Madrid to catch and wreck us."
The wreck Patison is referring to happened on opening night at the half-mile speedway. Madrid, a 16-year-old rookie, made contact with Patison with less than 10 laps remaining. The impact was devastating, destroying Patison's racecar and leaving him sore for days.
"That wreck cost us a lot. It took a lot out of our budget and cost us several points. Had we not wrecked, we'd be leading the points right now, but like they say 'that's racing,'" Patison added.
While Thompson has the points lead, it's actually 21-year-old rookie Rod Johnson, Jr. who poses the biggest threat to Patison in the championship battle. Johnson has lead more than 90% of the laps he has completed so far, but a flat tire put him in the wall two races back, and Johnson sits second in points, 8 ahead of Patison.
"He's not unbeatable," Patison said when asked about Johnson. "I think we actually had the better car last time out (June 4th) but he got a clean start and we had to work through some slower cars. When I got in clean air, I cut his lead in half, but we ran out of time."
In recent years, Patison has gone down the route of getting as much seat time as possible. That's meant running races in multiple divisions, including the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and East, but nothing is in the plans for now.
"I'd really like to find a ride for the K&N Pro Series West race at Irwindale this year," Patison said of the event on July 2nd celebrating Independence Day. "We have a pair of top five finishes in five starts in the event, and I really think he can jump out and win the race."
Without a ride, Patison will be on the sideline for the event, instead pondering how to turn his luck around, and hopefully in the process bring home his first checkered flag of 2011.
Patison was thankful of all of his 2011 sponsors, and had some kind words for K&N Filters. "K&N has been an amazing sponsor. The people at K&N have always been very friendly and helpful when it comes to technical support and their products are second to none. K&N Filters give me the performance I need to compete at a high level!"
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